Last week we talked about some of the more common ways people are trying to detoxify these days. Ultimately, what you eat and how you take care of your body is the best way to keep your detoxification system working optimally. However, sometimes our bodies can benefit from a little extra “boost”, and acupuncture is one way to do just that!
The main route through which acupuncture can help detoxification is by treating Liver Qi. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is ultimately responsible for the flow of Qi (energy) through the body, and also the storage and flow of blood during movement. From a biomedical standpoint, we now know that the liver is the main organ responsible for detoxifying our blood. So by helping the liver function optimally, we will be enhancing our natural abilities to detoxify, which can include:
- Increasing circulation: in order to detoxify, things have to be circulating and moving, and this primarily includes Qi, blood, and lymph. Acupuncture is highly effective at increasing circulation of all these substances.
- Reducing inflammation: acupuncture is well known for its ability to reduce inflammation, which is why it’s so great for treating pain. Inflammation also hinders the body’s ability to detoxify because inflammation creates stagnation. If inflammation is reduced, circulation is increased, and detoxification can take place.
- Digestion: As we know, many of the toxins we’re exposed to come from food (preservatives and additives etc). Additionally, the digestive system is the powerhouse where we absorb nutrients and eliminate waste products. By improving digestion, our small intestine will block the absorption of toxins in the first place, and our bladder and colon will flush out waste products lingering in our digestive tract.
- Sweating: Sweating is a way to release toxins stored in the superficial layers of our skin, and certain acupuncture protocols can induce a light sweat, which we call “releasing the exterior”.
- Improving Sleep: making sure we’re rested is also vital to detoxification, because when we’re not rested and feeling sluggish, chances are the rest of our bodily systems are slow and sluggish as well.
- Decreasing stress reactivity: being in a constant state of stress hinders many normal bodily functions including sleep patterns, digestion, and blood circulation to the internal organs. When we’re stuck in a stress response, all of our energy is going to the stress response. This creates a buildup of stress hormones (which can be toxic), slows our digestion down (waste buildup), and redirects blood flow away from our internal organs to our muscles (liver function decreased). The stress response also keeps our body in an inflammatory response, which is also known to hinder our natural ability to detoxify. Helping our body’s out of the stress response and into the relaxation response is perhaps the most important function of acupuncture, as it can actually inhibit the sympathetic nervous system (stress/fight or flight) and support the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest)
So in a nutshell, there are various channels through which acupuncture can help with detoxification simply by enhancing and re-balancing our minds and bodies.
Another way to look at detoxification is the process of overcoming addiction. Many rehab and detoxification facilities are employing acupuncturists because of a specific protocol that’s been developed to help the ease from addictive behavior; this also comes back to the stress response. The symptoms of cravings and withdrawal are rooted in the sympathetic nervous system, and thus closely linked with stress. Using a selection of points on the ear, acupuncture can help control cravings, reduce withdrawal symptoms, balance the nervous system, and ease the mind. Go to www.acudetox.com to learn more! Both Hardin and myself (Andrea) are able to use these points to help accentuate your acupuncture treatments.